IMPRESSIONS CONFIGURATION OF PERSIA 247
lane and other semi-barbaric conquerors, the destruction
of ancient art and frontiers, and the compression of the
Empire within comparatively narrow limits.
Still, these limits include an area about thrice the size
of France, the sovereign has reassumed the title of King
of Kings, Persia takes her own place—and that not a low
one—in the comity of nations, and the genuine Persians
retain vitality enough to compel the allegiance of the
numerically important tribes included within their fron-
tiers, though scarcely more than 30,000 soldiers are with
the colours at any given time.
Still, under a land system fourteen centuries old,
Persia produces cereals enough for home consumption
with a surplus for export; her peasants are thrifty and
industrious, and their methods of tillage, though among
the most ancient on earth, are well adapted to their pre-
sent needs and the conditions of soil and climate.
Her merchants are able and enterprising, and her
sagacious liberality in the toleration of Christians and
Jews has added strength to her commercial position.
Though she has lost the high order of civilisation
which she possessed centuries before Christ, she has in no
sense relapsed into barbarism, and on the whole good
order and security prevail.
The condition of modern Persia has to be studied
along with that of the configuration of the country. The
traveller through Khorasan and Seistan, from the Gulf to
Tezd, or from Bushire to Tihran, views it as a sparsely-
peopled region—a desert with an occasional oasis, and
legitimately describes it as such. The traveller through
the " Bakhtiari mountains," and from Burujird through
Western Persia up to the Sea of Urmi, seeing the superb
pasturages - and perennial streams of the Zard-Kuh, the
Sabz-Kuh, and the Kuh-i-Kang, and the vast area of care-
ful cultivation, sprinkled with towns and villages, which